Drug-Facilitated Rape on Campus

To get more information about the use of “date-rape drugs” and related topics, NIJ sponsored a Campus Sexual Assault (CSA) Study, which surveyed more than 5,000 female undergraduate students from two public universities.

Researchers asked the students to distinguish between forced sexual assaults and incapacitated sexual assaults related to drug or alcohol intake. They also asked if the incapacitation was a result of the victim being given alcohol or drugs without her knowledge.

Number of Survey Respondents Reporting Sexual Assault*

  Lifetime Before College Since Entering College
Any sexual assault 1,164 590 782
Forced sexual assault na 322 256
Incapacitated sexual assault na 377 651
Alcohol/drug use (voluntary consumption) na na 566
Drug-facilitated without victim's knowledge na na 31

*Out of 5,446 survey respondents. For the survey, the researchers used a broad definition of “incapacitated” that included being drunk, under the influence of drugs, passed out, asleep or otherwise incapacitated. The figures are not likely to be representative of most American campuses: The surveys were conducted at two public universities with large enrollments. Department of Education statistics show that such campuses have the highest crime rates.

More women experienced forced sexual assault before college than during college. Once in college, however, their risk of becoming a victim because of incapacitation — broadly defined — increases.

The survey results show that the use of date-rape drugs does occur, but less than 1 percent of women indicated this happened, making it far less common than sexual assault following voluntary intoxication. Alcohol is more frequently associated with sexual assault on campuses than drugs.

Date Created: October 1, 2008